By Mike Willis
There are many portraits which have been drawn of Bible characters and events, but I don’t ever recall seeing one in which Judas was portrayed. In Bible Epitaphs, C.E. McCartney quoted William Hazlitt to say, “I would fain see the face of him who, having dipped his hand in the same dish with the Son of Man, could afterward betray Him. I have no conception of such a thing, nor have I ever seen any picture that gave me the least idea of it” (18). Judas remains an enigma to us.
What Judas Did
Judas was one of Jesus’ disciples. When Jesus chose his apostles from among his disciples, Judas was one of the twelve selected. He probably was one of the more outstanding disciples to have been selected by Christ. As an apostle, he walked with Jesus every day during his earthly ministry. He heard Jesus’ teaching about God, witnessed the miracles he performed, and saw the character of the only perfect man ever to have lived. He saw the glory of God incarnate (Jn. 1:14; 14:9).
But Judas was a thief (Jn. 12:6). When he witnessed the “wastefulness” of the woman who anointed Jesus with precious ointment, he rebuked Jesus for allowing this to happen (Jn. 12:4-6). Matthew ties this event to his decision to betray Jesus to the Jews for thirty pieces of silver. He probably perceived that Jesus had no intentions of establishing an earthly kingdom and that there would be no exalted position to bring him wealth, power and fame.
At Jesus’ last supper with the apostles, “Satan entered his (Judas’) heart” (Lk. 22:3). He left the Apostles and led the Jews to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus. Later, when Judas saw the outcome of his dastardly deed, he regretted what he had done and returned the money to the Jews. Then he went out and hung himself.
His eternal destiny is not left in doubt. Jesus said, “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born” (Matt. 26:24). He was the son of perdition who was lost (Jn. 17:12).
Nevertheless, when Luke records the selection of Matthias to take Judas’ place, he wrote, “That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” (Acts 1:25). The eternal destiny which Judas received was his own place. In the same sense, heaven is one’s own place for him who lays up his treasure there (Matt. 6:19-20). Someone wrote,
The tissue of the life to be,
We weave with colors all our own; And on the fields of destiny
We reap as we have sown.
Each of us going to his own place.
We Choose Our Own Place In This World
There are some aspects of life beyond our control. I did not choose the place of my birth, parents, physical appearance or genetic make-up. Nevertheless, there remains much of life which we create for ourselves.
- We choose our marriage companion. There are different kinds of women for a man to choose. A person can go after the one who dresses in the attire of a harlot, is loud and boisterous, and is forward (Prov. 7:10-13). Or, he can look for a companion who is modest in dress (1 Tim. 2:9-10), has a meek and quiet spirit (1 Pet. 3:4), and has the “law of kindness” on her tongue (Prov. 31:26). Every man who goes home from work to meet his mate goes to his own place. He chose for himself the kind of mate to whom he wished to go at the end of every day.
- We choose what kind of home relationship we will have. A person can create his own place by how he con-ducts himself in his home. If he chooses to be selfish toward his wife, neglect her needs, and be abusive in his speech, he should not be surprised to receive in return anger, resentment, and ill will. Each of us goes to his own place a home he has made for himself by his manner of life.
- We choose what kind of relationship we have with our children. Our children can be the source of much sorrow and grief (Prov. 10:1). Sometimes parents create for themselves this sorrow and grief by how they treat their children. When they do not provide the proper kind of discipline (Prov. 22:15), provoke their children to anger (Eph. 6:4), ignore and neglect their children, and spoil them by giving them everything they ever want, parents create monsters out of their children monsters with whom they have to live!
- Children choose their own place with reference to their parents. Teenagers may be slow to realize that they create their own place by how they act toward their parents. If children sass their parents or otherwise show disrespect, bring home poor grades from school, and are negligent about the chores assigned to them, they should not be surprised when their parents are angry. They have created their own place by their conduct.
We Choose Our Own Place in the Church
When we get up to go to church on Sunday morning, we go to our own place. The church with which we worship is what we make of it. We can make the church with which we worship a bad experience if we choose to bite and devour one another (Gal. 5:15). We can go to a church which is dead or dying if we bring half-hearted worship, never mention Christ to our neighbors and friends, and sit back and do nothing to convert our young people and keep them active. If you never open the doors of your home to show hospitality toward other Christians and your neighbors and friends, you will go to your own place when you go to a dead or dying church!
On the other hand, you can go to a church which is alive and zealous, characterized by members who weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Your worship can be directed by a song leader who has prepared himself to lead singing, a preacher who proclaims God’s word from sincerity and dedication, prayers which pour out our hearts’ desires, and a warm remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. What it is depends upon each of us, but it is true that each of us will go to his own place when he leaves for worship this Sunday morning.
We Choose Our Own Place in Eternity
As was especially true for Judas, so also it is true for each of us. Each of us chooses for himself his eternal destiny. I can lay up treasure for myself in heaven (Matt. 6:2W; by patient continuance in well-doing I will reap eternal life (Rom. 2:7). Or like Judas, I can so live that it would be better that I not be born, become a son of perdition, and receive the wrath and indignation of God (Rom. 2:9). But if this is what I receive, it will be my own place. I will have prepared it for myself; this will be the just wages of my unrighteousness.
What kind of place are you making for yourself on earth? Do you go home to a place that is more like a heaven on earth or like a hell hole? Remember, it is generally true that you make it for yourself. What kind of place will you have for yourself in eternity? Heaven or hell? Remember that when you die, like Judas, you too will go to your own place, one which you have prepared for yourself. Which will it be?
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 11, p. 2
June 3, 1993